Ministries Enjoy Thanksgiving Meal
by tom campisi, managing editor
Three juniors with Christian Union at Columbia led a team that prepared and served a Thanksgiving meal in the fall semester, uniting several campus ministries for a memorable celebration.
The dinner, held on November 16 at Wein Hall, was organized by Shazzarda Davis, Barnard ’21, Anne-Marie Tehn-Addy, Columbia ’21, and Callum Kiser, Columbia ’21.
“We spent countless hours together and put so much effort into asking other people to bring food and invite their friends,” said Tehn-Addy, an English and history major from Los Angeles, California.
Although Davis, who is from Brooklyn, and Kiser, a Long Island native, live nearby, the leaders on Christian Union’s Socials Team were aware that most Columbia students are far from home. The goal was to create a “loving, home-away-from-home” atmosphere. The team also wanted to foster community on campus among believers. Christian Union at Columbia hosted an inter-ministry Thanksgiving dinner last year, and is now seeking to make it an annual tradition.
Christian Union at Columbia hosted an Interfellowship Thanksgiving Dinner in November
“We had a great turnout this year,” said Davis, an urban studies major. “Many people came, not only to eat, but also to meet other believers.” The event planners provided each table with questions to generate conversation and help students get to know one another. A spirit of friendly competition kicked in during a playful round of “Christian bingo.” Towards the end of the event, Davis shared that a few students expressed gratitude to be “in a positive space where others shared the same love for Christ.”
“The event centered around being surrounded by fellow believers, who we do not get to see throughout the semester. We wanted to follow the example from Christ’s ministry by breaking bread (and turkey) with each other.”
“With all this work, nothing could compare to the utter joy the three of us felt as we stood and watched everyone together, fellowshipping as the body of Christ,” said Tehn-Addy. “It was so fulfilling. Seeing a glimpse of community on Columbia’s campus has made us excited for fellowship events to come.”
Among other highlights of the current academic year, a Christian Union teaching fellow is helping to lead Bible courses and mentor graduate students at Columbia University. Nick Nowalk, who helped launch Christian Union at Harvard in 2008, relocated to Manhattan in 2016. He quickly began hearing from Harvard College alumni whom he mentored during their undergraduate years, including some who had transitioned to graduate studies at Columbia.
As Christian alumni from Harvard and other leading universities began to network at Columbia, many expressed interest in regular discipleship. At the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, Nowalk began holding weekly Bible courses for about 10 students. By May, Nowalk was ministering to about 40 students in two coed studies.
As news of the meetings tailored to Columbia grad students spread, Nowalk began to field inquiries about additional opportunities.
In particular, graduate students in the medical arts voiced desires for a dedicated Bible study. Such individuals spend the majority of their classroom and clinical shifts at Columbia Irving University Medical Center, about 60 blocks north of Columbia’s Morningside campus.
In spite of the distance, Nowalk recently launched a Bible course for students based at the medical center, which is home to medical, dental, nursing, public health, and other programs.
Many of the Columbia grad students were also part of Christian Union Bible Courses as undergrads.
Among them, Grant Kleiser said he participates in a graduate Bible course because he missed the enriching studies of his undergraduate days. “It’s my favorite method of exploring my faith and getting closer to God,” said Kleiser, Penn ’17.